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'Significant' plans announced to move sacramental preparation away from schools

The sacraments are Baptism, Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation.

Holy Communion is one of the sacraments which children are prepared for through schools.
Holy Communion is one of the sacraments which children are prepared for through schools.
Image: Shutterstock/Victoria43

THE ARCHBISHOP OF Dublin has announced “significant” new plans to move the focus of sacramental preparations away from schools to a family-centred model. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wrote to priests and parishes informing them of a proposal from the Priests Council which endorses a new approach to the sacraments – Baptism, Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation. 

The proposal centres upon supporting parents in sharing faith with their children with a view to parishes assuming responsibility for the preparation and celebration of the four sacraments. 

“At the heart of the proposal is to stress the primary role of families in sacramental preparation. It also advocates a renewed relationship with Catholic schools in promoting Catholic ethos and in delivering the Grow in Love programme,” Martin wrote in his letter. 

“We must remember too that more and more Catholic children today attend other than Catholic schools. The proposal  is not something that will be accomplished overnight. It cannot, however, be put forever on the long finger. We must begin now.”

A consultation was carried out throughout the archdiocese and 1,800 people responded to an online survey taking in views from parents, parishioners, clergy, schoolteachers and principals. 

Focus groups were also established with young parents who were not regular church-goers as part of the consultation. 

A statement from the Archdiocese today said the key findings in this process included refocusing the primary responsibility for leading children in faith to the family, that there is a desire for shifting of direction for sacramental preparations from schools to parish. 

An implementation group is to be set up to look at a range of issues around the proposal including communicating with schools and parents, and training volunteers in parishes to work with regional support workers, as well as providing resources and finance to those. 

The group is expected to be up and running in early 2020.

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